Ashlie Garb of Bloomingdale recently came through Asbury Park with her husband and son, and they stopped by the Danny Clinch Transparent gallery at the Asbury Hotel.
You can usually tell when Clinch, who’s photographed everyone from Bruce Springsteen to Tupac Shakur, is there — his 1948 Pontiac is parked in front.
Clinch has a lot of style, even in his choice of transportation. Today, there’s a surprise. Clinch is inside, even though the Pontiac isn’t in front.
“It’s great to have Danny Clinch actually in here and to be able to talk to him about his pictures,” Garb said. “It’s really great and inspiring — you can’t get enough of his artwork.”
Transparent is the name of the interactive, immersive gallery that features Clinch’s iconic photos of music stars, mid-century modern furniture to lounge in, live music from locals, and more often than not a rock star. It’s David Hemmings’ studio in “Blowup” crossed with Andy Warhol’s Factory — with plenty of Jersey Shore hospitality.
Danny Clinch Transparent
“I wanted to create something that wasn’t typical, that had a welcoming feeling where you want to come in and hang out and spend time,” said Clinch, a Toms River native. “A lot of times you come to a gallery, you see the work and you appreciate it, the focus is the art, and then you leave. Here, you’re invited to come in, settle in, hear some music, hear some live music. You can sit down and spend some serious time soaking up the vibe and looking at the photography, sorting through the LPs.”
The stars come through. Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers and the London Souls recently jammed on a Saturday afternoon, and Robert Randolph, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, G. Love, Vini “Mad Dog” Lopez and more national stars have played there. Yet, Clinch gets just as excited for the up-and-coming local bands, like Joe Michelini and American Trappist, Jackson Pines, and the Garden State Hip-Hop collective, who have taken over the Transparent stage.
“Yes, the Springsteen legacy is really strong, and it certainly brings a lot of people here, but it’s also exciting to note that there are new bands here playing on a regular basis who are making their legacy here,” Clinch said. “It’s exciting to see art, culture and music rising up again here in Asbury Park.”
Springsteen is a fan. The Boss, whom Clinch has photographed and filmed many times, came by the gallery on Saturday, June 3, with his camera.
“He said hello. I walked him around and he posted up right next to that photo I took of him in 2007,” Clinch said. “He hung out, watched the musicians and people were taking pictures, asking him to sign things. He was signing a book once in a while.”
As was Clinch, whose book “Still Moving” is on sale at the gallery Clinch’s mom, by happenstance, was also at the gallery.
“I bring my mom over and a lot of people tend to get nervous and speechless around Bruce, which is understandable,” Clinch said. “She looks at him, ‘Bruce, you have brought a lot of joy of our family and I want you to know how much I appreciate it.’ I was like, what more can you say? So on point and really, really cool. I was blessed to have been there when she said it and to have heard her say it.
“Bruce gave her a big hug.”
Clinch’s pictures have appeared in Rolling Stone, Spin, Vanity Fair, Esquire, GQ and the New York Times Magazine. His ad campaigns include John Varvatos and American Express. He’s been nominated three times by the Grammys for his films, and he’s shot the covers of Nas’ “Illmatic,” Johnny Cash’s “Solitary Man,” Kanye West’s “The College Dropout” as well as multiple Springsteen albums, starting with 2002’s “The Rising.”
He was even profiled by “60 Minutes” last February.
“You feel a beautiful vibe and energy here,” said Tina Kerekes, a curator and host of Transparent. “People say it’s the best gallery they’ve ever walked into and the best place they’ve been to. It’s Danny and it’s the arts — how can you not look at Bruce and Patti Smith and Run-DMC and say the place is not incredible?”
The front of the room features enlarged vinyl transparencies of Clinch’s pictures of Tupac Shakur, Springsteen and the E Street Band, Johnny Ramone and more, and further in, there are prints on the walls and on the movable walls. There’s neon in the back, and the restrooms feature Clinch’s work on the wallpaper. The main room is appointed with groovy furniture curated by Kerekes, who was the main designer for the nearby Asbury Lanes.
The nearby Asbury Lanes will reopen, after renovations, in 2018, said Brian Cheripka, the senior vice president of land and development for iStar, the owners of the Lanes and the Asbury Hotel.
“The original concept (for Transparent) came about our with our creative agency (Baron & Baron in New York City) and they had a relationship with Danny,” Cheripka said. “We were looking for something different. It’s essentially a retail space but we didn’t want a traditional food and beverage place or a retail store. We wanted to do something different that was a compliment to Asbury Park.”
It is a working gallery. Clinch’s prints start at $200 and there are books, clothes, and T-shirts for sale, too. Proceeds from the sale of a Beastie Boys T-shirt that features a Clinch contact sheet is donated to Planned Parenthood, as per the request of the Beastie Boys.
The furniture in Transparent is for sale, too, with prices ranging from $100 to $2,000. The run is scheduled to end in the middle of September.
It’s a special place for Clinch. One regret is that his father, the late Maxted Clinch of Toms River, who passed away in 2016, never got to see it.
“We had Joe Grushecky and they came in from the Wonder Bar after their sound check and played a gig in the corner, and the London Souls were here, too,” Clinch said. “I kept thinking, I envisioned my dad sitting on that couch over there because he was such a people watcher. He would have loved to sit there and watch what was going on.”